Thomas Tuchel has bemoaned what could prove to be a costly miss from Romelu Lukaku in the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final tie with Real Madrid, while also admitting to getting his tactics wrong in a 3-1 defeat.
The Blues welcomed La Liga heavyweights to Stamford Bridge hoping to establish momentum ahead of a tricky visit to Santiago Bernabeu, but the defence of a prestigious European crown now appears to be all but over after Karim Benzema hit a stunning hat-trick in west London.
Kai Havertz did offer Chelsea hope at one stage, when he halved the deficit five minutes before the break, but some uncharacteristically sloppy defending and a spurned opportunity from second-half substitute Lukaku means that a continental mountain must now be climbed in the Spanish capital.
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What has been said?
Quizzed on how costly Lukaku’s inability to head home a deflected cross from Cesar Azpilicueta could prove to be, Tuchel said: “It was very important.
“There are no more away goals so if we have only a one goal deficit or a draw, then you see the momentum is back when we score. We could have even equalised.
“There were a lot of spaces and chances. But the individual decisions today were far from our level or standards.
“Yes, to come back with a chance like this at 3-2, after 16 shots in the second half alone, then goals are crucial. We didn't get them. We gave a third one away.
“It is simply impossible. We cannot demand that we turn it around if this is our foundation from this game.”
Did Tuchel get it wrong?
The German tactician is prepared to accept his share of the blame for a disappointing result and performance against Real.
He opted to line up with a three-man defence, as Reece James and club captain Azpilicueta were asked to fill wing-back roles.
Andreas Christensen endured a tough evening trying to keep Benzema and Vinicius Junior quiet down Madrid’s left flank, with Tuchel conceding that his system was not right.
Asked if he got big tactical calls wrong, the Blues boss said: “Yes, it is my mistake.”
A winning formula will now need to be found when heading to the Bernabeu next Tuesday, with a Premier League trip to Southampton on Saturday presenting Chelsea with their next opportunity in which to get back on track.